Share 14 Monumental Books to Read on the Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

14 Monumental Books to Read on the Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

Erin Flaaen is a corporate marketing coordinator at Simon and Schuster. She loves dark stories, devours historical fiction, and still has a soft spot for great YA. (A short list of her favorite authors would include Emma Donoghue—not just for ROOM—Lisa See, George Saunders, David Ebershoff, Jeannette Walls, Shirley Jackson, Scott Westerfeld, David Levithan, and Libba Bray.) Originally from Arizona, she moved to New York in 2014 and now spends her days being constantly confused by the weather, craving Mexican food, and reading books on buses.

From the soldiers on the front lines in North Africa, Normandy, and the Pacific to the civilians fighting with the Resistance in Nazi-occupied territory, we’ll always be grateful to those who gave their lives and those who fought in World War II.

Today, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, we’ve gathered some of the most intimate, heart-wrenching, and transfixing nonfiction accounts of the war.


Unbroken
by Laura Hillenbrand
In September 1941, Olympic runner Louis Zamperini enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps. Two years later, when his B-24 bomber crashed into the Pacific, against all odds, Zamperini survived. Surrounded by thousands of miles of open ocean and driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini’s journey serves as a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.
Unbroken
Laura Hillenbrand

In boyhood, Louis Zamperini was an incorrigible delinquent. As a teenager, he channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when World War II began, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to a doomed flight on a May afternoon in 1943. When his Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean, against all odds, Zamperini survived, adrift on a foundering life raft. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater.

MENTIONED IN:

14 Monumental Books to Read on the Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

By Erin Flaaen | December 7, 2016

11 Spellbinding Tales for Fans of Erik Larson

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | April 16, 2015

An Olympic Hero’s Astonishing Survival

By Suzanne Donahue | August 4, 2014

Close

Stalingrad
by Antony Beevor

Over the course of 7 months in 1942, Hitler’s army laid siege to the Russian city of Stalingrad. The Russians sought to hold the city by any means necessary, and the battle that followed cost more than a million lives. Antony Beevor’s harrowing account shows the experiences of soldiers on both sides and the chilling stories of the civilians trapped within the city.

Stalingrad
Antony Beevor

Over the course of 7 months in 1942, Hitler’s army laid siege to the Russian city of Stalingrad. The Russians sought to hold the city by any means necessary, and the battle that followed cost more than a million lives. Antony Beevor’s harrowing account shows the experiences of soldiers on both sides and the chilling stories of the civilians trapped within the city.

MENTIONED IN:

14 Monumental Books to Read on the Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

By Erin Flaaen | December 7, 2016

Close

An Army at Dawn
by Rick Atkinson
From 1942 to 1943, World War II spread into North Africa with battles unfolding that would ultimately aid in the Allied victory over the Third Reich. AN ARMY AT DAWN is a vivid narrative of the American and British armies as they fought the French in Morocco and the Germans and Italians in Tunisia—growing from a poorly led army into a superb fighting force.
An Army at Dawn
Rick Atkinson

The Liberation of Europe and the Destruction of the Third Reich is an epic story of courage and calamity, of miscalculation and enduring triumph. In this first volume of the Liberation Trilogy, Rick Atkinson shows why no modern reader can understand the ultimate victory of the Allied powers without a grasp of the great drama that unfolded in North Africa in 1942 and 1943.

MENTIONED IN:

14 Monumental Books to Read on the Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

By Erin Flaaen | December 7, 2016

Nothing Less Than Full Victory: Essential WWII Reading

By Off the Shelf Staff | June 3, 2014

Close

The Longest Winter
by Alex Kershaw

In December 1944, 18 American soldiers found themselves in the path of Hitler’s massive Ardennes offensive. Told to hold their position, they resisted 3 German assaults before being forced to surrender. THE LONGEST WINTER is the story of these brave young men and their struggle to survive in German POW camps.

The Longest Winter
Alex Kershaw

In December 1944, 18 American soldiers found themselves in the path of Hitler’s massive Ardennes offensive. Told to hold their position, they resisted 3 German assaults before being forced to surrender. THE LONGEST WINTER is the story of these brave young men and their struggle to survive in German POW camps.

MENTIONED IN:

14 Monumental Books to Read on the Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

By Erin Flaaen | December 7, 2016

Close

The Rape of Nanking
by Iris Chang

Years before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the stage for the war was set in the Pacific. In December 1937, the Japanese army invaded the city of Nanking, systematically raping, torturing, and murdering 300,000 Chinese civilians and soldiers. Bringing a voice to both survivors and the deceased, Iris Chang tells the often forgotten story of this horrifying siege.

The Rape of Nanking
Iris Chang

Years before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the stage for the war was set in the Pacific. In December 1937, the Japanese army invaded the city of Nanking, systematically raping, torturing, and murdering 300,000 Chinese civilians and soldiers. Bringing a voice to both survivors and the deceased, Iris Chang tells the often forgotten story of this horrifying siege.

MENTIONED IN:

14 Monumental Books to Read on the Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

By Erin Flaaen | December 7, 2016

Close

Escape From Davao
by John D. Lukacs

On April 4, 1943, 10 American prisoners and 2 Filipino convicts executed a daring escape from one of Japan’s most notorious prison camps in the Philippines. Including biographical descriptions of the Americans involved, the horrors of their capture, imprisonment, and maltreatment, John D. Lukacs’ landmark narrative is the first book to bring these stories to life.

Escape From Davao
John D. Lukacs

On April 4, 1943, 10 American prisoners and 2 Filipino convicts executed a daring escape from one of Japan’s most notorious prison camps in the Philippines. Including biographical descriptions of the Americans involved, the horrors of their capture, imprisonment, and maltreatment, John D. Lukacs’ landmark narrative is the first book to bring these stories to life.

MENTIONED IN:

14 Monumental Books to Read on the Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

By Erin Flaaen | December 7, 2016

Close

Women Heroes of World War II
by Kathryn J. Atwood

From operating radios to joining the Resistance, women were a crucial part of the war effort and of defeating the Axis powers. With many of the most influential works of WWII nonfiction focusing on the men on the front lines, the women who aided in the war are often forgotten. Kathryn J. Atwood’s WOMEN HEROES OF WORLD WAR II covers the important roles women played in World War II.

Women Heroes of World War II
Kathryn J. Atwood

From operating radios to joining the Resistance, women were a crucial part of the war effort and of defeating the Axis powers. With many of the most influential works of WWII nonfiction focusing on the men on the front lines, the women who aided in the war are often forgotten. Kathryn J. Atwood’s WOMEN HEROES OF WORLD WAR II covers the important roles women played in World War II.

MENTIONED IN:

14 Monumental Books to Read on the Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

By Erin Flaaen | December 7, 2016

Close

Irena's Children
by Tilar J. Mazzeo

In 1942, Irena Sendler, a young social worker, was granted access to the Warsaw ghetto as a public health inspector. In the months that followed, she managed to smuggle out 2,500 children, saving them from death and deportation.

Irena's Children
Tilar J. Mazzeo

In 1942, Irena Sendler, a young social worker, was granted access to the Warsaw ghetto as a public health inspector. In the months that followed, she managed to smuggle out 2,500 children, saving them from death and deportation.

Close

The Irregulars
by Jennet Conant

Prior to the United States entering the war in Europe, Britain sent a group of spies to Washington, tasked with using their wit and good looks to influence American politics. Years before he created Willy Wonka and other beloved characters, Roald Dahl was one such spy. In this carefully researched narrative, Jennet Conant conveys a story of deceit, double-dealing, and espionage.

The Irregulars
Jennet Conant

Prior to the United States entering the war in Europe, Britain sent a group of spies to Washington, tasked with using their wit and good looks to influence American politics. Years before he created Willy Wonka and other beloved characters, Roald Dahl was one such spy. In this carefully researched narrative, Jennet Conant conveys a story of deceit, double-dealing, and espionage.

MENTIONED IN:

14 Monumental Books to Read on the Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

By Erin Flaaen | December 7, 2016

Close

With the Old Breed
by E. B. Sledge

Based on notes E. B. Sledge secretly kept in a copy of the New Testament during battle, WITH THE OLD BREED portrays his journey from leaving Alabama to becoming part of the war’s 1st Marine Division—3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. Fighting in the battle of Peleliu before being thrown into Okinawa, Sledge’s experiences illustrate the horrors of the war in the Pacific.

With the Old Breed
E. B. Sledge

Based on notes E. B. Sledge secretly kept in a copy of the New Testament during battle, WITH THE OLD BREED portrays his journey from leaving Alabama to becoming part of the war’s 1st Marine Division—3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. Fighting in the battle of Peleliu before being thrown into Okinawa, Sledge’s experiences illustrate the horrors of the war in the Pacific.

MENTIONED IN:

14 Monumental Books to Read on the Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

By Erin Flaaen | December 7, 2016

Close

If You Survive
by George Wilson

In this gripping memoir, George Wilson tells his experience fighting in Europe during the final years of the war. Wilson was the lone survivor of Company F, 4th Infantry Division, and his memoir focuses both on the battles he fought and coming out of the war not as a victor but as an exhausted survivor.

If You Survive
George Wilson

In this gripping memoir, George Wilson tells his experience fighting in Europe during the final years of the war. Wilson was the lone survivor of Company F, 4th Infantry Division, and his memoir focuses both on the battles he fought and coming out of the war not as a victor but as an exhausted survivor.

MENTIONED IN:

14 Monumental Books to Read on the Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

By Erin Flaaen | December 7, 2016

Close

The Boys' Crusade
by Paul Fussell

This narrative is the mesmerizing story of an American infantryman in Europe. Partially drawing from his own experiences, Paul Fussell focuses on the raw action and human emotion triggered by the horror and intense sorrows of war through the eyes of the young soldiers who fought on the front lines.

The Boys' Crusade
Paul Fussell

This narrative is the mesmerizing story of an American infantryman in Europe. Partially drawing from his own experiences, Paul Fussell focuses on the raw action and human emotion triggered by the horror and intense sorrows of war through the eyes of the young soldiers who fought on the front lines.

MENTIONED IN:

14 Monumental Books to Read on the Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

By Erin Flaaen | December 7, 2016

Close

Descent into Darkness
by Edward C. Raymer

Following the December 7th attack on Pearl Harbor, Edward C. Raymer was the head of a group of U.S. Navy salvage divers called in to attempt to rescue sailors and salvage vital war material. Raymer’s memoir tells how he and his team were able to perform this seemingly impossible job by using untested and potentially deadly diving techniques.

Descent into Darkness
Edward C. Raymer

Following the December 7th attack on Pearl Harbor, Edward C. Raymer was the head of a group of U.S. Navy salvage divers called in to attempt to rescue sailors and salvage vital war material. Raymer’s memoir tells how he and his team were able to perform this seemingly impossible job by using untested and potentially deadly diving techniques.

MENTIONED IN:

14 Monumental Books to Read on the Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

By Erin Flaaen | December 7, 2016

Close

Things We Couldn't Say
by Diet Eman

This riveting and heart-wrenching true story focuses on Diet Eman, a young Dutch woman who, along with her fiancé, risked her life working with the Resistance, ultimately saving hundreds of Dutch Jews. Including excerpts of the personal diary Diet kept during the war, this is a powerful look at those fighting against the Third Reich from within Nazi-occupied territory.

Things We Couldn't Say
Diet Eman

This riveting and heart-wrenching true story focuses on Diet Eman, a young Dutch woman who, along with her fiancé, risked her life working with the Resistance, ultimately saving hundreds of Dutch Jews. Including excerpts of the personal diary Diet kept during the war, this is a powerful look at those fighting against the Third Reich from within Nazi-occupied territory.

MENTIONED IN:

14 Monumental Books to Read on the Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

By Erin Flaaen | December 7, 2016

Close

Thank you for joining our email list!

If you create and Off the Shelf account, you'll be able to save books to your personal bookshelf, and be eligible for free books and other good stuff.

Click here to create your free account.

You must be logged in to add books to your shelf.

Please log in or sign up now.